Kidney Stone Causes

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones develop either when there is too little urine volume or when the concentration of certain substances (known stone-forming substances) increases in the urine. Calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate are the two most common kinds of kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in men than in women. About 11% of men and 6% of women in the US will get stones of the urinary tract at some point in life.

Dehydration

Dehydration, either from inadequate fluid intake or excessive sweating (such as exercising in hot weather) is the major cause of kidney stones, since this reduces the volume of urine.

Diet

Certain dietary factors are linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. People who consume high levels of animal protein, sugar, and salt are at increased risk. Taking excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements can be associated with kidney stones. Consuming too little calcium can alter the balance of calcium and oxalate in the body and may lead to the development of oxalate stones.

Medical Conditions

A number of medical conditions can alter the body's metabolic states and cause a tendency to form kidney stones. Among these conditions associated with increased risk of kidney stones are gout, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal bypass or ostomy surgery, hyperparathyroidism, some kidney diseases, and an inherited tendency to excrete too much calcium into the urine. Some medications can also raise the risk for getting kidney stones.

Infections

Struvite stones, or infection stones, are a type of kidney stone that occurs in association with urinary tract infections.

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Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology

REFERENCES:

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases. Kidney Stones in Adults.

MedscapeReference.com. Nephrolithiasis.


Quick GuideKidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Reviewed on 3/2/2017

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